These are crazy times.
Less than four weeks ago, our Fempire team was busily preparing for our big national tour of Australia which would consist of a five-city tour (Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney) to inspire, educate & empower women in business with free marketing and social media trainings.
Our live, in-room training events of 100+ ladies are also the way we promote our business and coaching programs to generate new clients and revenue.
We’d had the biggest number of sign ups for all of our events. We were booked out for our Perth event, our hometown. We’d been celebrating the fact that our new Facebook advertising strategy had been working better than expected.
We were expecting over 200 ladies at The Crown in Perth on the 14th March for our free 4-hour event, where we teach a range of mindset and marketing strategies to help business women make more money and impact in business. And then the COVID-19 disaster hit.
It was early days and there hadn’t been any social distancing measures announced by the government. But it was already starting to feel scary and we’d all been watching the disasters unfold in China, Italy and Spain.
Given the fear and chaos that was starting to ripple across the world, as to be expected, only half of the expected attendees showed up to our event in Perth after all.
As disappointing as it was, we completely understood why.
We’d been unsure about whether to proceed with the event, but with a lack of clear direction from Crown Perth or from the government, we decided to show up for the hundred-odd ladies who still wanted to come.
Unsure about how the situation was going to unfold, the team decided (cautiously) to continue with the next four events over east and flew over to Adelaide. We’d put so much effort and resources into the planning of these events that form the lifeblood of our business, so we felt we at least had to try.
And that’s when things started getting really bad with the COVID-19 situation.
The government announced bans on events of over 500 people. And even though our events were much smaller, the fear was causing everyone to worry, including us.
After delivering the event to a small audience in Adelaide (only half the predicted audience showed up, same as in Perth), in good conscience we made the call to cancel the remaining three events in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney, our biggest audiences.
It was hugely disappointing.
But we knew it was the right thing to do.
After returning to Perth, licking our wounds, the team took a few days to rest and process what had just happened.
This was a huge hit for Fempire. Our client- and revenue-generating activities had come to a halt.
It took a few days to process it all.
But like everyone else, we’ve hunkered down, re-grouped and come up with a comeback strategy to survive these times.
Taking Things Online
The main strategy to ‘pivot’ in these circumstances has, of course (like everyone else), been to take all of our offerings online. We’re confident in our abilities to do this, as our Fempire team has had extensive experience over the years with delivering coaching and trainings both in-room and online.
However, our big ‘tour’ events, which comprise the start of our business funnel (and are the main way we generate new clients), have always been live and in-room in different cities around Australia. Fempire founder Marnie LeFevre is a renowned speaker and award-winning CEO and has the ability to attract and inspire large audiences. Her free trainings are always a great entry point for our clients into the Fempire sisterhood of business coaching and training.
In our experience, it’s impossible to replace the connection, the energy, and the transformation that takes place at in-room events. It’s the reason we’ve continued to stick with in-room events as the main source of our client-generating activities, because we know how powerful they are for creating space for deep learning and change for people.It's impossible to replace the connection, the energy, and the transformation that takes place at in-room events. They are a powerful way for creating space for deep learning and change for people. #fempire #liveevents Click To Tweet
But, we’re now faced with a situation in which live events are of course not possible. And given the current conditions, the online space is where we have to be 100% if we’re going to survive these times.
To that end, we’ve had to convert our in-room events to online events as follows:
1. Converting our Live, In-person 4-hour Free Events into a 90-minute Online Webinar
We converted our live events into a two-hour online webinar, with the first three being delivered last week to the Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne ladies who missed the tour entirely due to the cancellation. We’re hoping to release more in coming weeks to the other states.
This is an exciting time as we test the validity of the online approach for generating new clients.
But we’re going all in with optimism and a can-do attitude!
2. Converting our In-person 3-day Fempreneur Workshops into the Online Space
Typically we run our live, 3-day Fempreneur workshops three times per year for business women in the startup space. We usually have 15-25 women in the room per workshop.
We teach them the fundamental marketing and mindset strategies they need to grow their business into a profitable enterprise.
We’re now in the process of converting our 3-day workshop into an online program delivered over six weeks. Our first online Fempreneur program will kick off in late April. We’re putting a lot of thought and attention into how we can deliver a value-packed program that delivers as much ‘punch’ as the in-room version.
And we’re confident we’ll do it!
3. Taking all of our Coaching Programs and In-person Business Trainings Online
We’ve always offered and delivered online coaching and training as part of Fempire. However, obviously now all sessions are being conducted online via Zoom. We have many clients who have always preferred to meet in person.
So we’ll have to see how this goes for them during this time.
Fempire’s Experience with In-Person Versus Online Events and Programs – the Pros and Cons
We’ve had our reasons for resisting the online space up until now for our tour events, some of which we’ve listed below.
However, if anything, this COVID-19 experience has taught us that we need to diversify and not have “all of our eggs in the one basket” when it comes to event delivery models.This COVID-19 experience has taught us that we need to diversify and not have “all of our eggs in the one basket” when it comes to event delivery models. #fempire Click To Tweet
Advantages of In-person Events and Trainings
- There’s no doubt that in-room, live experiences create faster connection, bonding, vulnerability, and transformation than online virtual events.
- Women form deep connections and friendships after spending time in-room together, and these connections last well beyond the training.
- Women need in-person connection with other women to feel truly supported and nurtured.
- As coaches/trainers, it feels easier to give personalised support to clients one-on-one, in person.
- Sometimes a hug can make all the difference! And often, that’s exactly what our clients need.
Advantages of Online Events and Trainings
- Suddenly you’re not constrained to a physical location anymore to deliver your offerings. You can literally reach anyone, anywhere in the world, and become ‘international’, relatively quickly.
- There are no costs for travel, room hire, and catering, which brings overall costs down significantly.
- For many of our clients it’s easier for them to attend an event from the comfort of their own home rather than travel and spend time away from home.
- Due to the low cost of delivery, you can run your programs and events more frequently to generate a more steady client stream.
A Major Disadvantage of Online Trainings and Events Compared to In-person Programs
In our experience with delivering both in-room and online programs over the years, one of the major disadvantages of online events is the lower retention of clients. Our private coaching programs run over twelve months because that’s how long it takes to establish a sustainable, profitable business.
But when the program is run online, typically it’s hard to retain clients beyond the six month mark. The human, in-person connection is critical for keeping clients engaged. Client drop-off rates are much higher in the online space.
The Big Lesson Learned from the COVID-19 Crisis
The COVID-19 situation has brought it home for us that it’s important to be diversified in your offerings.
We’ve realised that it’s important to offer both in-person and online client-generating models in future. A hybrid model of both in-person and online offers the greatest resilience, long-term. In a way we’re grateful that this crisis has helped us to get moving in the hybrid model direction sooner rather than later.
In every situation there’s a silver lining, right?
How have you had to pivot during this crisis? Let us know in the comments below! xox
Kate De Jong is a blogger and coach who understands what it is like to juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship